April Jones case: Mark Bridger denies being a paedophile

Mark Bridger told the court about why he had indecent pictures of young girls on his computer

A man accused of murdering five-year-old April Jones in a sexually motivated attack has denied being a paedophile.

The prosecution told Mold Crown Court that Mark Bridger's explanation for having indecent images of children on his computer was "complete fantasy".

Mr Bridger, 47, of Ceinws, Powys, denies abducting and murdering April who went missing near her Machynlleth home on 1 October 2012.

He claims he accidentally knocked her over with his Land Rover.

The court has heard he tried to revive her but there was no response and he drove away.

He had been drinking and panicked so could not remember what he did with her body, he claimed.

The prosecution has said he murdered her and told police a "web of lies" to cover it up.

Earlier on Thursday the court was told Mr Bridger had felt sick with "fright and fear" after accidentally knocking her over in his car.

After lunch, he was asked about the indecent images found on his laptop.

Prosecuting, Elwen Evans QC asked him: "Do you have indecent images of children on your computer?"

Mr Bridger: "Yes."

Ms Evans: "Are you a paedophile?"

Mr Bridger: "No."

Ms Evans: "Why are there indecent images of of children on your computer?"

Mr Bridger: "A lot of them were for looking into the development of my two youngest children... some of them I didn't know were there."

The court has heard how Mr Bridger said he had stored some images in order to write and complain about them.

Ms Evans put it to him: "You are seriously saying 'I had this disgusting filth on my computer because I thought I would write to someone to complain about it'?"

April Jones April Jones had been playing with a friend when she disappeared

Mr Bridger: "A small batch of pictures. Yes."

Asked why he searched the term "France British schoolgirl raped and murdered", he said it was because of a planned holiday to France and the name came up.

Ms Evans asked about a search for "naked five-year-old girls" and he said that had been a mistake and he had meant 15.

Asked about other images, he claimed he was researching underwear for his daughter.

He also searched "animated porn girls" and claimed this was for his protest against such sites.

Ms Evans said his story was a "complete fantasy".

He said he had psychology books detailing brain and personality development and had looked up "all aspects" of the development of his children.

Ms Evans asked him why his Facebook profile did not display his age and he replied it did but was hidden.

She then asked him why he had sent a friendship request to one of April's teenage half-sisters when he was aged 45.

Mr Bridger: "Because I had known her for two-and-a-half years, I'd known the family. She was doing a Duke of Edinburgh award. Full stop."

The court heard how the girl declined the invite and wrote that she did not know "why you are adding me". "I don't know you," she wrote on Facebook.

Coral and Paul Jones arriving at court on a previous day April Jones's parents Coral and Paul have attended court each day of Mark Bridger's trial

Mr Bridger explained she would have known him by sight because he had once lived "five or six doors away".

Later, the court was told about a folder on his computer in which he kept pornography. The jury heard it included clothed pictures of April and her two older half-sisters.

"They shouldn't have been in there, no," Mr Bridger said.

Pictures of Soham murder victims Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman were also found on his computer as well as a picture of a boating accident victim "because I had read the story", he said.

One indecent picture of a young girl was to help his understanding of his daughter's physical development, he said.

Asked why he was viewing Facebook pictures of one of April's older half-sisters on 22 September, he said it was "to see if there's new pictures... for the kids".

The court heard 52 images were viewed, eight of which contained pictures of April with one of her sisters.

Viewing images

The judge asked him to clarify whether Coral Jones had requested to be his friend on Facebook.

He said: "We had been friends on Facebook before... yes, she had made a request to me on Facebook to be a friend."

The court also heard he saved a Facebook-type picture of a six-year-old girl to the folder on 25 September and said it was a friend's daughter who he had made cakes with previously.

He looked at the same picture again on 30 September and, on the same day, viewed cartoon pornography.

He said he had "drunk a lot that day" and could not explain why he had viewed it or for how long.

Asked why he had viewed one particular image, he said it had been a "beautiful example" of a picture of a 10 to 12-year-old girl.

He said it had been taken from a naturism site, a non-sexual site "to show my daughter".

Start Quote

This is hours before you killed April. Now, you give us a straight answer, where were you viewing this computer?”

End Quote Elwen Evans QC Prosecuting

Ms Evans said he had given three different reasons for viewing 32 images of a 14-year-old girl - who he has claimed might have been his daughter - on the day April disappeared.

She said that when people told "a complete web of lies" they sometimes forgot what they had said.

She reminded Mr Bridger that his Facebook message to the girl's mother on 1 October asked for a drink or a meal and had no suggestion of his fatherhood claim.

Mr Bridger was asked why he had saved a picture on 1 October of the girl he suspected could be his daughter.

Ms Evans asked: "How on earth does saving this image into your pornography file help you discuss things with her mother?"

He replied: "This is a picture of what's possibly my daughter... days I might've missed out on as her father, if I am."

Ms Evans told him: "This is hours before you killed April. Now, you give us a straight answer, where were you viewing this computer?"

Mark Bridger's home Mark Bridger viewed indecent images at home on the day April Jones went missing, the court heard

He said it would have been at his home in Ceinws, probably in his front room.

She asked him again about the picture of his friend's daughter: "Why, at 12:07... by that table in your lounge, are you viewing a six-year-old girl's photo?"

He replied: "There's nothing sexual there... she's six years old, she's a friend of my daughter's."

Ms Evans pointed out he was mixing images in the computer folder of clothed six-year-olds and abuse of children.

At 12:11, just after viewing the six-year-old, he looked at an indecent cartoon image of a girl, Ms Evans said.

Ms Evans later recounted some of Mr Bridger's movements on the day April went missing, including how he had asked a young girl for a sleepover with his daughter.

Ms Evans asked: "Did you think it was an appropriate request for you, a single man, (with a) broken-up relationship, in drink, to make to an 11-year-old girl?"

He replied: "She didn't know that I was drunk. I wasn't making advances, I wasn't asking her to sleep with me... this was a girl that was (my daughter's) friend.

"She happened to cycle past and I said 'oh, do you fancy having a sleepover with (my daughter) some time?'."

Later, he added: "You make it sound as though I was asking her to sleep with me."

Earlier on Thursday, the cross-examination of Mr Bridger had continued with Ms Evans accusing him of being willing to tell lies to save his skin, which he denied.

Mr Bridger said evidence from a friend of April's in which the five-year-old was seen getting into his vehicle "happy and smiling" was a lie.

Clean-up

The court also was told again how he had no memory of what he had done with April's body which Ms Evans said was the only piece of evidence that would solve the case.

"So where did you put her?" she asked.

Mr Bridger: "I don't recall, I don't know."

He later told the jury he had had a memory of laying her body in front of his fire at home but denied he had sexually assaulted her or deliberately killed her.

He said he thought her blood could have "seeped through" to the underside of the carpet.

He said: "She was not alive, there was not great quantities of blood".

He said he had wiped blood but denied being involved in a huge clean-up to get rid of evidence.

Later Mr Bridger told how he had used his fire to cook food since he had moved in.

The court has previously heard bone fragments were found in the fire, some from a human skull.

Asked where he thought the fragments were from he listed several animals he had cooked including squirrel and rabbit.

Mr Bridger also denies intending to pervert the course of justice.

The hearing was adjourned until Friday morning.

The case continues.

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